Who inspires me? Y’all do!!

Laura Paskell-Brown is active in Women of Spirit and Faith, part of an ever-expanding global circle of women (and men) who feel called to show up in love.

As you know, the challenge we gave you this month was to blog about someone who inspires you…

…I love it when I can’t answer my own questions…I mean, it’s so hard to choose just one person, it really is.

However, I knew that a blog was expected of me. So sitting at my desk, I began making a list of names, hoping that one would pop out at me. Nearly two hundred women later and I still wasn’t any closer to choosing one, but I was feeling the gratitude oozing out of every pore of my body.

Women of Spirit and Faith, “Young Leaders retreat” in Atlanta, Spring 2012

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and looking at my list I have to agree. Three years ago my regular support network consisted of my boyfriend and our cat. Then my boyfriend and I split up. Then he left and took the cat. I was – to put it mildly – f***ed.

On the bright side, that was the moment that forced me to rethink my approach to community.

It was also the moment I starting paying serious attention to women, which had never really occurred me before. After all, why put so much effort into someone you can’t have sex with, or at least flirt with? That attitude, whilst sad and narrow minded, had carried me quite far in some ways: I was good at being charming towards those who could get me what I wanted, usually men of course. But I was also lonely, and very uninspired.

Some of my closest New York buddies

To inspire is to breath life into someone, and for much of the last three years, the women in my life have quite literally kept me alive. When I felt I was gagging for breath and couldn’t come up, these women gave me a reason to swim for the surface.



Here’s how:

  • Through living their lives as fierce, loving, compassionate, creative people, they reminded me of my purpose in life (thank you to all of the women at Women of Spirit and Faith and our sister organisations).
  • With Rainbow at the NYC Clown Festival, 2012

    Through their laughter and naughtiness they taught me how to enjoy that life again (I never would have gone to that clown festival if you hadn’t suggested it Rainbow!)

  • Through their courage to be vulnerable, they taught me that I could be wounded AND still live my life as a luscious, fabulous being (to all of my Twelve Step sisters: thank you for scraping me off the floor and for working your recovery in such incredible ways).
  • Through cultivating creative spaces, they gave me a chance to explore my dreams, and to practice them out (to Jasmine Jobity for VIPs, to Megan Waterson for Soul Work and to Susan Naomi Bernstein for workshops at the Left Forum).
  • Through opening up their communities, they gave me a chance to heal from the isolation I had been practicing (thank you to everyone in the PACC Gospel Choir, to the women of The Grail and to my roommate Doan Hoang).
  • More than a gospel choir: a family and a ministry

  • Through continuous support and love, they modelled a compassionate way of being that I seek to emulate in my own life (thank you to my sister, my mum and to anyone who took my calls, sat with me or made their love known to me when they could).
  • Through blogs, books, podcasts and texts, they have given me sweet words of encouragement, just when I needed them (Elizabeth Gilbert, Marianne Williamson and everyone on my Facebook newsfeed, how can I ever repay you?)
With Ellie: sisters in spirit as well as blood

These are the women whose inspirations I have breathed in when I needed air.

But breathing in is not enough; to live, one must breath out also. It is for this reason that I save special thanks for the women who allowed me to inspire them back: to my students, sponsees, and anyone else who was kind enough to receive some of my wisdom, my naughtiness, my passion and my love, THANK YOU for helping to keep me alive too. I need you just as much as the one’s who give it to me. It’s the circle of life folks; it’s the freakin’ circle of life.


Women who inspire me who I have met:

Eleanor Paskell, Judy Paskell, Kathe Schaaf, Kay Lindhal, Kathleen Hurty, Mohini Moore, Karen Boyett, Jamia Wilson, Alisa Roadcup, Karen O’Brien, Morley, Tegan Rein, Courtney Martin, Meggan Waterson, Alison Fast, Ruthie Howard, Nefertiti Anna, Honna Eichler, Julia Jameson, Ayesha Mattu, Louie Mangan, Vanessa Gomez Brake, Dawn Maracle, Anne Fitzgerald, Lynda Terry, Laura Swan, Ligeia Gorrre, Rachelle Figueroa, Christine Boyle, Denise Casey, Valarie Kaur, Jasmine Jobity, Susan Naomi Bernstein, Shivani Ray, Melody Kiersz, Luba Tolkachyov, Anat Shenker, Keddy Sutton, Caroline Thaw, Carrie Brightman, Eleanor Dunne, Anna Banbury, Ana Hernandez,  Alex Nussbaum, Kayleigh Pleas, Mary-Bit Smith, Molly Barnsley-Dunne, Emma Dawton, Michelle Balandra, Randee Barasch, Doan Hoang, Catherine Hoang, Emily Newhouse, Whitney Lee Nowak, Eve Bohlin, Rainbow Geffner, Laura Barton, Jennifer Hope Kottler, Carla Rose Fisher, Dallas, Cara, Michele, Amber Taylor, Kristen Cardenas, Ada Rojas, Jackeline Gomez, Greismary Flores, Ericca Peralta, Janna Derjavina, Melinda Medina, Jade Young,  Linda Provenza, Lakshmi Marfil Delgado, Libbie Schrader, Tasia Jelatis-Hoke, Emily Scott, Rachel Pollak, Jelena Mrdja, Melody Grey, Lois Tene Jenkins, Ajua Kovadio, Ayeje Feamster, KeaLynn Kees, honourary woman Paul Vasile, Roseangel Perez, Leonie Güldenpfennig, Carolina Brown, Alison Pepper, Kimberley Bliss, Naja Hougaard, Emily Thomas, Joy Garland, Jackie Disalvo and others at The Grail….plus, my teachers Mrs. Elles, Mrs. Rowe, Anna Stetsenko and Petra Schleiter.

And women I have never met, but who have inspired me from afar:

Marianne Williamson, Gabrielle Bernstein, Peggy Orenstein, Elizabeth Gilbert, Elaine Pagels, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Betty Frieden, Gloria Steinem, Rosa Luxemburg, Laura Marx, Caroline Myss, Meg Wheatley, Jane Austen, Oprah Winfrey, Jassy Watson, Amma the hugging saint, Gurumayi.

And to those who I forgot to mention, you are in my heart anyway.

With Carrie, who I have known for all 32 years of my life.


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